The quick answer to whether you should track your bounce rate: Maybe?
Not helpful, I know, so let’s get into bounce rates a little more.
My quest to figure this out started with a question asked in our community during month’s Community Spotlight which is on measuring your communications. At that point I realized I spend most of my time on email metrics as opposed to website metrics and decided to do a little digging into the bounce rate and why it’s so divisive.
What exactly is a bounce rate anyway?
Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who enter your site and then leave (“bounce”) without viewing other pages on your website. It is calculated by counting the number of single page visits and dividing that by the total visits. It is then represented as a percentage of total visits.
So, if your homepage has a total of 100 sessions and 50 of those sessions are only single page visits your bounce rate is 50%.
On the surface, it seems like that would be a good metric to know, right? If people are leaving without looking around, then you aren’t giving them what they need, right?
Is a high bounce rate bad?
That depends on the type of site you have and the particular page in question.
Blog posts or other informational pages can have high bounce rates because people find what they are looking for on one page, then leave. Think about what you do after reading a news article.
Also, if you have a lot of visitors from mobile devices, then you may also have a higher bounce rate as most users on these devices don’t look at multiple page during a session.
On the other hand, your homepage probably directs visitors to different areas of your website so a high bounce rate here could warrant further investigation.
High bounce rates can also be a sign of poor quality images, disruptive ads, or slow load times so be sure this isn’t an issue with your site.
Should you track your bounce rate or not?
Unfortunately I go back to my first answer: Maybe. While bounce rates can help identify an issue with engagement, it doesn’t paint a full picture. If you don’t have time to further investigate a high bounce rate on a certain page, then don’t bother. A bounce rate by itself won’t tell you anything helpful.
If you only have a single-page website, then again, this is not a helpful metric. Everyone will bounce because there is nowhere else for them to go.
It also does not affect your Google rank.
But as said above, it can show an issue with your homepage or other back-end issues like load time.
Yes, I know how annoying “Well, it depends” answers are so I will leave you with this news:
Google Analytics 4 did away with bounce rates and replaced it with “engaged sessions” so I think that may be the final word on this misunderstood metric.
Want to join our Community? Become a Free Member or Pass Holder or register for a training event.
Want to learn more about how to measure your communications success? We are doing a Master Class this Thursday on measuring your communications where we will show you practical, strategic approaches to tracking and evaluating communications work.